Goldfish and Morning Sports Radio: How Dying Attention Spans Shape Industries

on-ther-radio

We live in an interesting time.  When the internet and e-mail became staples of our daily lives, little did we know that the need for instant information would change society as a whole.  Today, everything is about how fast you can get it.  Write a letter?  Who has time for that?  A company needs you to fax something to them instead of scan and e-mail?  Ha ha ha ha!!!  That’s so early 2000’s!!  You want to drive to stores all over town and find some pants to buy that are in your size?  Here, let me take you to the websites of those stores so you can shop online from the comfort of your own home while I watch Game of Thrones and finish eating my entire bag of nachos.

In the past few years, the need for instant information has decreased our attention span to the point where goldfish are now more attentive than the average human being.  (Goldfish=9 seconds.  Humans=8 seconds).  This has greatly shaped how we consume our media.  First, we saw the rapid decline of traditional newspapers.  Who needs to pick up the morning edition of the paper when you can read it as news happens online? If you can’t, you can set your phone up to send you alerts on the content you care about.  Next came television and cord-cutting.  As the internet and smartphones allowed us to find the content that mattered to us personally, a demand began to form to have better access to that content.  Why spend a fortune on a TV package where you only watch about 3% of the channels you have access to?  Along comes Sling, Hulu, Amazon Prime and Netflix to fill a demand that traditional cable companies and networks were slow to address.  Fewer or even no commercials, as well as the ability to watch the content we cared about when and where we wanted, led to a major shift in the world of television.  Just ask ESPN.

Once the newspaper and television industries were irrevocably shaken up, our now un-goldfish-like attention span targeted sports. In the past few years, the major sports have all tinkered with ideas on how to speed up the “pace of play.” Major League Baseball has explored shortening the game the most.  This is probably a good thing, considering that games last well over three hours on average and continue to grow longer.  Commissioner Rob Manfred has looked at such measures as a pitch clock, enforcing the rule of batters remaining in the batter’s box, and limiting mound visitations.  Recently, the NFL shortened overtime from 15 to 10 minutes and Roger Goodell is exploring various other ways in which the pace of play can be sped up (time between whistles, eliminating kickoffs).  While it’s nice that both sports recognize that they need to speed up the game to fit our society’s decreasing attention span (which is especially true in the younger generation, a demographic the major sports are struggling to draw in), they refuse to acknowledge the root cause: Too damn many commercials…and it’s something neither the leagues or cable TV will change anytime soon, as both are heavily dependent on the other.  However, the plethora of commercial advertisements are a big reason why so many people have become cord cutters, a demographic that is rapidly increasing each year.

The mentality behind cord-cutting also changes what we listen to on the radio.  During my morning commute to work I often turn it to either the Dan Patrick show or Cooley and Kevin on ESPN 980, a local sports talk radio station out of Washington, DC.  Over the years, I have found that I do two things when it comes to listening to morning sports radio:  I flip the channel when a commercial is on and forget to go back to the radio show, and I try to time the minute I leave for work to when the first minute of the radio show begins.  Considering that my commute to work in the morning is only about 10-15 minutes, getting into the car at the right time is paramount.  Otherwise, I would have to spend the majority of my commute listening to advertisements telling me how I can consolidate my debt before the IRS comes to haul my broke butt off to debtors’ prison.

0e07d768cb2ae466af118acdf5ddb3ba

Last week I conducted a listening test on three popular morning sports radio shows.  I listened to each for an hour at a time and calculated the following:  How many commercial breaks, how many minutes of commercials, and how many minutes of actual show content…all in an exact span of 60 minutes.  I must point out that radio personalities all read advertisements at some point during their show, so I subtracted that time from actual show content and added it to commercial time.  Here are the results:

The Dan Patrick Show (NBC. Broadcast nationwide.)

Number of commercial breaks per 60 minutes: 5

Total minutes of commercial time: 26

Total minutes of show content: 34

I love the personalities on the Dan Patrick show and the dynamics between them.  While they won’t ask questions that are too tough on their guests, they aren’t afraid to ask some that might push the envelope.  It’s funny, smart and engaging…and riddled with commercials.  What’s most annoying is the four-minute commercial break after the first segment that is followed by six minutes of content and then five more minutes of commercials.  It’s a 2-for-1 on commercials-to-content in the middle of the hour.  Plus, Dan Patrick often spends well over three minutes during his broadcast spewing his love of Ram trucks, Callaway golf clubs or Ripe Brand Bacon.

Mike and Mike in the Morning (ESPN. Broadcast nationwide.)

Number of commercial breaks per 60 minutes: 5

Total minutes of commercial time: 27

Total minutes of show content: 33

This show is, sadly, coming to its end soon thanks to massive shakeups at ESPN due to what I discussed earlier in this post.  This was a show I once listened to religiously years ago when my commute to and from college was an hour each way.  They’ve always had a great dynamic together, but over the last few years the show did two things that turned me away:  1.) They focused more on themselves instead of talking sports (I don’t care for a breakdown of high-end men’s shoes, or that they both have a soft spot for Justin Beiber), and 2.) they became synonymous with softball question interviews.  Also, the show became more and more dominated with commercials.  It got to a point where just about every segment was sponsored by someone, and they had to spend a large part of their show content reading a sponsor tagline.

Cooley and Kevin (ESPN, local to Washington, DC.)

Number of commercial breaks per 60 minutes: 5

Total minutes of commercial time: 17

Total minutes of show content: 43

Of the three morning shows, this one gives you more content.  Not only that, but they focus exclusively on sports.  You won’t find out what they had for dinner the night before, what they do when they hang out together, what style shirts they’re wearing or any of that.  It’s sports radio for people who like to listen to sports.  Occasionally they will discuss national sports, but the focus is more on DC sports.  Cooley can be a pompous d-bag from time to time, but it’s still better than hearing Mike and Mike sing together or Dan Patrick and the Danettes guffawing over Entourage or shitty Adam Sandler movies.

So if I hate commercials, what do I do during my morning commute?

picture for podcast
Two Guys Talking Crap Podcast:  A Brit (Jason) and an American (me) tackle whatever craziness the 21st century throws our way, including sports and science fiction.  And with no commercials!

I’m glad you asked.  Podcasts!  We live in an age where there’s something for everyone.  Explore the vast options of sports podcasts to choose from and find something that fits your style (I found Katie Nolan’s podcast to be pretty cool).  Few, if any, commercials, more specialized content, usually don’t have to follow stringent FCC guidelines, and leave you with something new to think about.

I (shamelessly) have a suggestion:  Two Guys Talking Crap.  It’s a podcast that my friend Jason and I have just started.  It’s sports, science-fiction, and just about anything that strikes our mind all done in a smart, witty and humorous discussion.  We’ll be recording our first podcast this week, so check back here to this blog for updates.  If you have comments or suggestions for content, hit us up at twoguystalkingcrap@gmail.com.

 

The Reality of Colin Kaepernick’s Unemployment

Colin-Kaepernick-Sad-Face

It’s time we had a frank discussion about why Colin Kaepernick is still unemployed.

If you check the news lately, a lot of sports sites are going out of their minds about mediocre and garbage quarterbacks getting jobs across the league while Kaepernick remains unsigned.  The other day, the Arizona Cardinals signed Kap’s former teammate, the woeful Blaine Gabbert, to a deal as Carson Palmer’s backup.  The fact that someone like Gabbert can find work and Kaepernick can’t has gotten many pundits across the sports world up in arms and claiming he is being blackballed for his beliefs.  Those same critics point to someone like Joe Mixon who was drafted by the Bengals in the second round despite being caught on video landing a haymaker on a college girl three times smaller.  How, then, can someone like Kaepernick, who only knelt to protest the American flag, not find employment?  The answer is quite simple and it has less to do with politics than you’d think:  You have to be damn good at your job.

When Kaepernick’s kneeling first got the world’s attention, many of my liberal friends cheered and admired him for what he was doing.  Some even wanted to go out and get his jersey.  For those that know me, they can tell you that I am a pretty liberal person who believes strongly in the first amendment.  However, in this case I disagreed with those friends who were quick to celebrate him.  Many of those who admired his kneel downs were not big football fans and did not take into consideration other factors, like how bad a QB he was and how close he was to losing his job before he began to kneel.  I remember telling those liberal friends of mine “this isn’t what you think.” True, Kap did start to donate funds to local organizations that dealt with racial injustice, and he did meet with the local PD.  But to me it all seemed almost forced and only as a byproduct of his kneeling.  Why had he not done this before if this is how he felt?  What made him suddenly so inclined to stand up for racial oppression?  Where was he when Ferguson was going on?  If there was a time to take a stand, the Ferguson unrest would have been it.  Instead, we didn’t hear a peep.  I was seeing this for exactly what it was: an act centered more around selfishness.

To say that Kaepernick’s stance was polarizing is putting it mildly.  On one hand, you had people who threw their full support behind him.  Many football players across the league also knelt in solidarity during the national anthem.  Across the country, swaths of people celebrated his stance and commended him for risking endorsement deals to stand up and send a message.  On the flip side other people saw him as un-American, and said his antics spat in the face of veterans who fought and died for this country.  Even Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a hero of those on the left, called his actions (not intentions) “dumb and disrespectful.”  Kap’s stance certainly got the discussion going, which is exactly what he said he wanted, even if some of it was heated. I will grant him that.

This year, Kaepernick’s  former team, the 49ers, did a massive house cleaning and fired a ton of people including the head coach and general manager.  While Kap did throw 16 TDs to only 4 INTs, his QB Rating was an abysmal 55.2, he only averaged 186 passing yards a game, and was 1-10 as a starter.   The Niners front office felt that it was time to start over everywhere, including at QB, so they decided not to re-sign him.

Now we’re here in the middle of May, the NFL draft is behind us and free agents have mostly been signed across the league.  Not on any roster is Colin Kaepernick.  Why?  Is it possible that all the QBs on the rosters for the Browns, Texans, Jaguars and Jets are better than Kaepernick?  Is it solely because of the stance he took?  As I mentioned earlier, many sports blogs are saying it is the latter.  But this requires a more in-depth look.

The Stance, or Lack Thereof

ctm-kaepernick-controversy-0902-1116461-640x360

When Kaepernick was out on the free agent market and not getting any calls, suddenly, miraculously even, things had improved so much with racial injustice that Kap decided he would resume standing for the national anthem.  What luck!  It just so happened to coincide with the time he’s looking for a new job in the NFL!  I’m pretty sure that just about any organization which stands for equality and ending racial injustice in this country like the NAACP, National Urban League, and RainbowPUSH, will tell you that things are not better.  In fact, they’re probably a lot worse.  Kap never elaborated on why he thought things were better or what he saw to make him feel like things were improving.  I’m pretty sure that his need to be employed again had more to do with him changing his stance.

Question:  Would his sudden change of heart actually scare off more teams?  What kind of message does that send?  I’m sure Kap wants NFL teams to know that he will do whatever they ask him as long as he’s employed, even give up his moral stance on racial injustice.  But if I were an NFL GM, it would send a signal to me that he really is all about himself, not those around him.  At least when he was taking a stand he was showing that he supported things bigger than himself and the NFL.  His backtracking just shows it’s all about Kap and nothing more.

No Skills, No Chance

Players with talent get opportunities when they probably shouldn’t.  Let’s take a look at two very interesting examples: Ray Rice and Joe Mixon.  Both were caught on video landing haymakers to women in brutal fashion.  After a massive public outcry, Rice went from a two-game suspension to an indefinite one.  He hasn’t been back in the league since.  Mixon got the usual slap on the wrist and ended up being drafted in the second round by the Bengals.  He’ll be starting for them this season.  Why does one get a chance to play in the NFL and the other doesn’t when they did virtually the same thing?  Easy: Mixon is 20 years old and went on to have 2921 all-purpose yards and 26 TDs in two seasons at the University of Oklahoma before the public saw the video of him punching the female college student.  Ray Rice was 26 and coming off an abysmal 981 all-purpose yards/4 TD season with the Baltimore Ravens before his video surfaced.  Though Rice was available to sign to an NFL team after his suspension, no team wanted to take a chance on him.  Not so much for the video incident, that was part of it sure, but because he was a RB nearing 30 who showed major signs of decline prior to his suspension.  (30 years is often the age NFL running backs begin to lose steam.)

Think about this:  What if Kaepernick had the following stat line in 2016: 33 TDs, 9 INTs, 4,420 passing yards, a QBR of 87, and his team finishing at 12-4.  Do you think the Niners let him walk?  If so, do you think other teams would still blackball him?  If you think yes, you are incredibly oblivious as to how the world works.  Star players who perform well often get special breaks.  To quote a Disney film, it’s a tale as old as time.  Had Joe Mixon been a third string RB, do you think he would have remained on Oklahoma’s football team?  If Dez Bryant were a backup kick returner for the Dallas Cowboys instead of a Pro-Bowl receiver, do you think they would keep him on the team after he assaulted his own mother?

Kaepernick is not the worst QB out there.  In fact, I can think of several situations in which he would be an immediate upgrade (Jacksonville, Cleveland, Jets).  What he is not, however, is talented enough for a team to take him on along with whatever personal crusades he decides he wants to be a part of.

A Twisted Society in Which We Live

colin_kaepernick_vet_protest_ap-1440x756

If you read or listen to some of the comments from people on stories about athletes and domestic violence, you will often find people actually defending those that committed the crime.  “She shouldn’t have started it.” “What was he supposed to do?” “She attacked him first, why isn’t she in jail?”  Hell, even ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith thinks domestic violence can be avoided as long as the woman doesn’t provoke.  Yet, when Colin Kaepernick protests the flag, it’s seen as an affront to ALL Americans, men and women.  For some, it’s easier to find an excuse for domestic abuse but harder to find one for protesting the American flag.  It’s a sad but twisted truth about our society today.  If there’s one thing that unites Americans is the feeling that someone is against America. The average sports fan makes about $42,000 annually.  So to see a pro athlete, making $142 million, and raised in an affluent background, protest the American flag, it can feel like an attack on all the things great about America. NFL teams know this, and they know their fans.  They know how each game begins with a giant flag spanning the field, a salute to the troops and renditions of The Star Spangled Banner and God Bless America.  If you’re an NFL QB who could potentially protest all of that, you’d better be coming off a 5,000 yard, 55 TD season.  Because winning is the only way to get a pass on that.  In our society, winning trumps morals.

Will Kaepernick Find Work?

Possibly.  But it won’t come until sometime around training camp when someone goes down with a serious injury.  In that situation, a team could use signing Kap as an emergency plan rather than be seen as a dedicated intention to make him a part of the team from the get go.  Keep an eye on Jacksonville.  A small-market team with a dwindling fan base in a city no one cares about.  That will probably be where he ends up.

 

What’s Next for Washington Sports?

1493520817653

If you’re a fan of the professional sports teams in our nation’s capital, which of the following best describes your current state of mind?:

A.) “Wow!  All four of my teams are looking great!  Wizards and Caps in the second round of the playoffs, Nationals with one of the best lineups in baseball, and the Skins just landed the best defensive player in the draft!  I haven’t been this excited in a long time!”

B.) “It’s unlikely that the Wizards and Caps advance, but man they were exciting to watch.  Once the Nats get a closer healthy, they’re the team to beat.  It’s only a matter of time before Kirk Cousins is signed to a monster 15-year deal that will make him a Redskin for life.  We might not win anything this year, but next year LOTS of championship trophies!”

C.) “Until we’re in the championship game in any sport, it’s all just fluff to me.”

D.) “GODDAMN IT OVECHKIN!!! PASS THE PUCK!!!”

E.) “Go DC United!”

F.) “I like the Mystics’ chances this year.”

Indeed, it’s been a while since all four DC professional franchises have been this good all at once.  There’s been a lot of success lately, but nothing to show for it other than highlight reel plays, awkward contract negotiations with Dan Snyder, and far too many overtime games against an 8-seed.  That’s not to say a championship trophy for any of these teams is out of reach.  In fact, each team has decent odds for taking home a championship trophy fairly soon.  But each team also has decent odds for breaking it down and starting it all over again.  I wouldn’t say that all of them are in a “win now” mode (though one can make an argument that the Redskins are currently in that mindset as they enter the final years for both Gruden and Cousins), but they’re pretty close.  The pendulum can swing either way at this point.

Washington Capitals

A-Cup-aint-one

Year after year after year, the Capitals are the best team in hockey…during the regular season.  And year after year after year, they fall short and never make it past the second round.  Why?  No one can really seem to find an answer.  Some say it’s because they are weak in the center and allow themselves to get pinned into their own side of the ice. Some say that they’re not fast enough for bad match-ups in the playoffs. Some say that Ovechkin doesn’t know how to pass at the right times.  To be honest it’s all of that, and none of that.  Sometimes it’s simply bad luck.  Watching them in the playoffs, you can tell that there’s something not quite clicking like it had been during the regular season.  I think a lot of that is the giant playoff monkey named Sidney Crosby that has been dancing on their backs for several seasons.  An argument can be made that the new NHL playoff format (which is a total joke and slap in the face to all that is holy and good in the world) is the main reason.  How can you possibly pair the #1 vs. #2 seeds against each other in the second round?  If anything, it makes the regular season completely irrelevant.  Still, the Caps had the fortune to face the “Wild Card 2” (aka #8 seed) Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round. It should have been a sweep, considering that the Caps finished with 55 wins and an 81 point goal differential compared to 40 wins and a goal differential of 9 for the Leafs.  The Caps won the series 4-2, but five of those six games went into overtime.  Not a good sign for the NHL’s best team who already had a knack for playoff failure.

What’s next?  It’s hard to say.  At the time of writing this, the Caps beat the Penguins to force a game 7, so I would say that the future is finally looking bright.  However, where the Caps go from here could easily hinge on this one game.  Win, and the Caps finally dump the Crosby kid off their backs.  Lose, and they face a long, uncertain future where fans and players alike begin to accept that nothing can ever be done to get to the Eastern Conference finals.  Not even the greatest coach in the world could convince the players otherwise.

Washington Nationals

Harper, Turner, Murphy, Weiters…this team can hit the paint off the ball.  Their rotation continues to be strong.  For the 2010s, the Nationals have been one of the top teams in baseball and continue to gain a stronger following.  This year, they have the third best record in baseball and already sport a six game lead over the second place, sex toy marketing, golf hangover laden New York Mets.  But that bullpen, oh my God that bullpen.  Here’s a live look as Blake Treinen takes the mound:

LqBXht

What’s next?  The Nationals are still young enough and talented enough to make it to the World Series.  The bullpen will be fine once they all come back from the DL, which will allow Blake Treinen to enter some much needed therapy given how many horrible outings he’s produced.  Once the bullpen returns to health, this team could reach the World Series for the first time in franchise history.

However…

There is one big elephant in the room:  Bryce Harper’s contract.  He’s eligible for arbitration next year and can become a free agent in 2019.  Already there are people saying that he will be headed to the Yankees, and possibly so.  If the Nats lose the cornerstone of their franchise, it will be very difficult to compete in the coming years.  I won’t say the Nats are in “win now” mode, but with Harper’s contract it’s damn close.

Washington Wizards

Washington Wizards v Golden State Warriors

For the past few years, the Wizards have been good but not great.  It’s no secret that their two stars, Bradley Beal and John Wall, don’t exactly get chummy with one another on or off the court.  Wizards fans counted down the days until their hometown kid, Kevin Durant, became a free agent.  Unfortunately for Wizards fans, Durant didn’t even grant the team an interview.  While Durant began the season acclimating to life on the left coast and the high-flying Warriors, the Wizards began the season in disarray.  It looked early on like the season was lost, but suddenly Wall and Beal kicked it into a second gear and the team took off.  They surprised a lot of people when they pulled ahead of the Raptors and made a run to finish within striking distance of Boston and Cleveland for the top two seeds.  It took them six games to get past the scrappy Hawks in the first round, and now they’re in a literal boxing match with the #1 seed Boston Celtics.  The winner heads to the Eastern Conference Finals to face a well-rested Cleveland team who swept the Raptors with so much ease, that Lebron decided to shoot left handed to see what would happen.

What’s next?  If the Wizards can get past the Celtics, they are going to be worn down.  It would not be surprising if they get swept by the Cavs.  However, of all the DC professional teams the Wizards’ future looks the brightest when you look at it in the long-term.  Thanks to a new rule in the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, teams can now spend more to keep their star players without it counting so much against the cap.  This will ensure that star players are able to stay with their teams for much longer.  Cleveland’s run will eventually run out and the Wizards have the talent and youth to stick around for a while.

Washington Redskins

I’ve spoken at length about the situation with the Redskins here.   The Redskins had one of the best drafts in recent memory this past month and landed some much needed defensive help.  Losing Garcon and DJax hurt, but not as much as people might think.  Pryor is more than capable of filling DJax’s shoes.  Garcon’s possession skills will be missed, but Cousins will find a way to get the ball around.  They won the division the season before last and nearly made the playoffs this past season.

What’s next?  Fear and uncertainty.  That’s what’s next.  This organization is run by the worst owner in sports.  Gruden is nearing the end of his contract and Cousins is on the franchise tag.  If there’s ever been a team to define the “win now” mentality, it’s the 2017 Washington Redskins.  Even if the Redskins somehow manage to re-sign Cousins to a long-term deal and extend Gruden to a few more years, there is going to be some steep competition in the division.  The Eagles had an amazing offseason, the Giants addressed some much needed depth, and the Cowboys are still locked and loaded with Dak and Zeke.

So Washington fans, here’s my advice.  Enjoy it while it lasts.  You may win some championships, and you may not, but for a city that hasn’t seen a major championship since my wife was in kindergarten, you have to strap in and hope for the best.

6032_10206217756106292_5637216648606721503_n
My wife, Marissa (left) and her cousin Jason (right).  This photo was taken around the time Washington saw its last professional championship.

The Doctor is (back) In! A Review of the Season 10 Premiere of Dr. Who

doctor-who-season-10

He’s baaaaack!

Season 10 of the Dr. Who reboot premiered this past weekend after a long hiatus.  Whovians across the globe were twitching with anticipation, fighting the urge to point their normal screwdrivers at the TV while making sonic noises in an effort to get the show back on.  Heading into the season, there were a lot of question marks:  How will the Doctor interact with a new companion?  What is life going to be like without Clara? What can we expect from the swan songs of Capaldi and Moffat?  Before we delve into the first episode, I feel I need to give a little background on my expectations heading into the premiere.

Clara was beloved by so many fans of the show, but I was not one of those.  I felt her character stayed on a season too long.  She was bossy, a bit whiny, and always seemed to be more of the center of attention.  I feel that Peter Capaldi never got a fair chance to establish himself as the Doctor because the writers put so much of the focus on Clara.  By the beginning of Season 9 I was hoping for a quick exit for “The Impossible Girl.” Instead, her character is out traipsing the galaxy with Me, which makes me wonder if they will find some way to bring her back.  Perhaps with Clara the writers wanted to establish a new fan favorite companion a la Sarah Jane, but she wasn’t even close in my opinion.  Amy and Rose were far better companions who never detracted from the Doctor, only complimented him and allowed him to use his strengths.

Another thing that bothered me about most of the companions during the reboot:  There was always that hint of a love connection with the Doctor at some point (at least that didn’t happen with Donna).  One of my biggest pet peeves for show writing is to have the “hint” of a love story.  Either have it or don’t.  Don’t drag it out, especially not on a science fiction show.  If I want to watch long-drawn out relationship “will they or won’t they” drama, I’ll tune in to one of the copious choices of shows on the CW.

Oh, and enough with the sonic sunglasses.  Trade those in for a working sonic screwdriver!!

I would say my expectations for this season were moderately high, but not too high.  The way the past season went, I was slightly worried we were starting to see the beginning of the end of creative writing for the show.

The season 10 premiere was not a disappointment.  In fact, it greatly exceeded my expectations!

The episode sets the tone early with the Doctor masquerading as a university professor (I know that had to make my best friend Jason, a Whovian from England who is a university professor himself, swoon to no end.  I have a sinking feeling his next classroom lecture was on the subject of time, even though he teaches political science.).  In his office we see some nods to his past:  the multiple sonic screwdrivers, the photos of River Song and Susan Foreman (in case you were wondering who the woman was in the black and white photo, that was his first companion…and granddaughter), and the bust of Shakespeare.  It was a nice recognition of where we’ve been over the years.

landscape-1461489532-pearl-mackie-doctor-who
Bill (Pearl Mackie) is just as excited for Season 10 as I am!

Bill (played by Pearl Mackie) is someone very different from previous companions and you get that feeling right away.  Although it’s only been one episode, I was so impressed with her character and how she interacts with the Doctor that I believe she could easily be one of the best companions we have seen in a long time.  She’s smart, but not annoyingly smart.  She’s not high strung and does not seem to be high maintenance, which could be a very good thing for the Doctor.  Bill seems to be full of life and not as broody as past companions.  Her sense of humor and charming smile is a welcome reprieve.  The first episode already showed how well she can interact with the Doctor. Whether it was Bill asking why the TARDIS is an outdated police call box, or the conversation they had about wiping her memory, their scenes together show a wonderful dynamic. Also, Bill is the first gay companion, so we won’t have to worry about a love connection developing between the two.  The Doctor can be the Doctor, and Bill can be Bill.

The season premiere also hinted at other story lines for the season.  What’s in the vault underneath the university?  Why has the Doctor been there for 50-70 years hiding out as a professor?  How does someone as brilliant as the Doctor even grade papers without giving all F’s?  Bill has some mystery as well.  How did she get so smart in astrophysics?  What happened to her mother? And what’s up with the Doctor photographing her mother years before?  Hmm…

The weakest part of the episode is Nardole.  Although he is a minor character and not really a companion of the Doctor in the truest sense, you have to wonder at the point of his presence.  Perhaps it’s to ease Bill in and get her up to speed on things that could take much longer to explain with the Doctor’s quirkiness.  Nardole is not the worst thing, but you do kind of have to wonder why he’s being kept around.

Overall, I will say that I was VERY pleased with the first episode.  I have a feeling this will be a very strong season where we could potentially see Bill become one of the fans’ all-time favorite companions, and see Capaldi really shine as the Doctor.  Shame, though.  Just as we could see him begin to really shine and embrace the role, he will be leaving us. Capaldi has already decided that this will be his last season as the Doctor. (Side note, the season finale is titled “The Doctor Falls.”  Could be a tear-jerker, so prepare yourself.) Oh, and just so you know, oddsmakers in England are keeping track of who will become the next Doctor.  You can check out the latest odds here. Personally, I’m hoping it’s either Tilda Swinton or Ben Whishaw.

Snippets at the end of the premiere show hints of the upcoming season, and it promises that Season 10 will be one of the best of the reboot.  Missy/Master will return, as will the Daleks, and who knows who else?

Let’s sit back and enjoy the ride!

Doctor_Who_s_Tardis_is_voted_the_nation_s_favourite_home

Baseball!: Types of Fans, the Beer They Drink, and Bold Predictions for 2017

https-blueprint-api-production.s3.amazonaws.comuploadscardimage241805giphy

Opening Day, 2017 is upon us.  Let’s get it on!

Baseball Fans and the Stereotypes they Fall In To

Ahh, baseball.  A sport where you can spend 3-4 hours on any given afternoon or evening with a cold beer, hot dog, between-inning promotions, dogs fetching baseballs, presidential mascots racing each other, and watch a chess match of statistical analysis and skill.  Baseball is a sport that is timeless.  Despite the commissioner’s best efforts to speed up the pace of play to attract millennials (without actually addressing the real reason for slower games.  Check out Grant Bisbee’s excellent analysis here on the real reason games are slower than ever before), baseball continues to be a sport that attracts many kinds of fans from all walks of life.

Baseball fans come in many shapes and sizes.  But once you have gone to the ballpark a few times, you start to realize that most fans fall into certain categories.  Be it low single-A or at the Major League level, baseball fans often fall into certain stereotypical groups.   So the next time you’re at a game, before you take a melancholy sip of the swill they now serve at Camden Yards since they kicked Natty Bo out of the stadium, take a look around and see how many of these fans you can spot:

The Scorekeeper

Baseball-Scorecard

Usually falls into two categories:  Older man or woman, or father at the game with his elementary-school aged son.  Pays close attention to every single facet of the game and doesn’t get distracted or excited, because to do so would ruin the entire card.

Beverage of choice: Either a Bud Light/Miller Lite or giant thermos-sized soda with the team’s schedule on it.

The Guy/Girl who will fight you to the end of the Earth because he/she is the biggest fan in the stadium

video-mlb-com286a85d0-3768-315b-8ca0-f651e1ae6582_full

Rabid.  Screams at every pitch thrown and often yells phrases like “get off your knees, Blue, you’re blowing the game!”  They make it a point to be the loudest person in their section and they want everyone to know that their loyalties lie deep.  (I, myself have fallen into this category many, many times).

Beverage of choice: Whatever beer is the cheapest, because it’s not uncommon for said beer to get knocked over when they fly out of their seat time and again.  By the eighth inning it’s usually some kind of soda, either because the vendors will cut them off or they’re tired of spilling their beer.

 

Date Night Couple

article-2142223-130489FD000005DC-7_468x265

Easiest to spot, as they’re always on Kiss Cam. It’s rare that both are wearing the gear of their favorite team.   Rarely get too invested in the game in an effort to land another date.  However, you can sometimes see the struggle to release their fandom when there’s a bad call.

Beverage of Choice: “Whatever he/she is having.”

***BONUS***: The Date night couple taking it to another level…in the upper level.

flagra

A rare site, but you know it when you see it.  Passion for the game takes a back seat for another kind of passion.  The odds of spotting these fans are higher in the following Major League cities:  Miami, Tampa (except when the Yankees are in town), Chicago (White Sox), Oakland, Atlanta.

Beverage of Choice: No time for that!

The Suit

16x9_b2b_30vjwlst_z0jxbwln

Often seen wearing a blazer and no tie, a polo shirt with a company name on it, or a dress and heels.  Usually seen on their phone half the time checking work email.  These fans are found in two places: corporate suites or right behind home plate.  They might have been baseball fans in their youth, but corporate life has left them with little time for investing too deeply in sports.  Don’t ask them the score of the game, because they don’t know.

Beverage of choice: Wine or cocktail.  Sometimes the higher end craft beer that can only be gotten in the suite level.

The Girl who is InstaSelfieFaceTweetSnapVining

1014950_1280x720

These fans usually travel in groups and are easily spotted by their incessant need to take millions of selfies for all of their followers to see.  Usually they have little or no interest in the game itself but are heavily involved in the group outing.  There may be one in the group who is actually a big baseball fan.

Beverage of Choice: The cheapest beer, or margaritas

The Church Group

FFN_Off_Season_8bjmqt1f_e52dns0b
Image Courtesy of Montgomery Biscuits

Large groups that consist of anywhere between 10-100 people.  Usually arrive at the stadium in church vans or buses.  Almost always seen in the left or right field stands and chanting phrases between each other like “We love Jesus, yes we do, we love Jesus, how ’bout YOU?”  Kids almost always outnumber the adults in this group.

Beverage of Choice: Water

The Fan that wears the jersey of a team that isn’t playing (or of a different sport entirely)

13533315_10104127511510767_2747105776382531740_n

If you’re at an Orioles/Rays game, you might come across a guy walking around in, say, a Dodgers jersey (like me!).  While this fan gets strange looks, they connect easily with other fans wearing jerseys of other teams, and speak at length about their teams’ histories/chances for reaching the playoffs.  Alternatively, these fans may also be seen wearing jerseys from other sports, in which case conversation may not be possible, because it will be too difficult to know where to begin.

Beverage of choice: Whatever’s wet.  And alcoholic.  And not too high in ABV.

ON TO THE 2017 MLB PREDICTIONS!! 

(Each division listed with projected order of finish.)

AMERICAN LEAGUE

AL EAST

1. Boston Red Sox.  Loaded from top to bottom.  Back end of the rotation and bullpen have a few question marks, and how will knife-wielding Chris Sale do in his new digs with more media attention?  Andrew Benintendi is a name to watch this season.

2. Baltimore Orioles. Year after year, the Orioles are picked to finish in the bottom half of the division, and they keep defying expectations.  Buck Showalter has basically said “to hell with sabremetrics.  Get me some guys who hit the long ball!”  This will be one of the most exciting teams in baseball to watch.  Expect a lot of home runs to be hit, and a lot of home runs to be given up.  Rotation is a dumpster fire but bullpen is one of the best in the bigs.

3. New York Yankees. How can they be this low given the talent of Bird, Sanchez and Judge?  Easy.  Who is going to pitch for them?  If Sanchez becomes the next Albert Pujols and not the next Kevin Maas, they may have a shot to at least finish for a wild card spot, but that rotation is one of the worst in the league and has been plagued by injuries in recent years.

4. Toronto Blue Jays. The favorite to take the division or finish second year after year.  With Encarnacion gone and Bautista in decline, it’s hard to put much faith in our neighbors to the north.  They will compete, but not enough.

5. Tampa Bay Rays.  Not much to see here.  Archer is a top-line starter and Odorizzi is serviceable.  Which Evan Longoria will step up?  In time, the Rays will build through the draft and through scouting, but days of contending are not even a blip on the radar at this point.

AL CENTRAL

1. Cleveland Indians.  Terry Francona showed last year why, once again, he’s a guy who can get the most out of his players.  Francisco Lindor may be one of the most exciting players in the league. Look for this team to be playing in October…and beyond.

2. Detroit Tigers.  With a team that has Verlander, Cabrera and Martinez, you know they will be contending.  But you have to feel like the window of opportunity is starting to close in Detroit.  If they are near the top of the standings at the trade deadline, expect them to make a trade that could vault them into the playoffs at season’s end.

3. Kansas City Royals. It wasn’t that long ago we were celebrating how Kansas City took their #1 ranked farm system and turned them into World Series champions.  Some of these players, like Mike Moustakas, regressed last year.  A run for a wildcard spot could be possible, but teams like Cleveland, Boston and Houston have surpassed the Royals in talent, thus leaving them in that awkward area of “good, but not quite good enough.”

4. Chicago White Sox. Is this team ever going to figure it out?  It wasn’t that long ago that the Sox’s future was looking bright with Sale, Quintana and Abreu.  But in-house turmoil was a major issue last year between players and GM, and they traded away one of the best starting pitchers in the game.  Granted, they now have a top-ranked farm system, but don’t expect players like Moncada to contribute much this season.

5. Minnesota Twins. Nice stadium, terrible team.  Byron Buxton was supposed to be the next big thing in the Land of 1000 lakes, but he just hasn’t been able to break through.  This season could be the season that decides if he is the cornerstone of the future, or trade bait at the deadline.  Twins are still several years away from contending.

AL WEST.

1. Houston Astros.  This division is going to be full of excitement with the top three teams, and no team is more exciting than the Houston Astros.  Like the Red Sox, Dodgers and Nationals, the Astros have built up their farm system year after year to the point that they are now contenders.  Altuve is a hit machine and Correa is ready to take it to the next level.  That being said, how far the Astros go will depend heavily upon Dallas Keuchel.  Will he find his Cy Young-winning groove again, or will he be another 9-12 pitcher like last year once he got paid?

2. Texas Rangers. Yu Darvish seems to be back, and that spells trouble for the rest of the AL West.  Their infield, when healthy, is one of the most exciting infields baseball has seen this side of Tinkers to Evers to Chance.  The Rangers play the Astros in a late September matchup before closing out with the Athletics.  Meanwhile, the Astros will be closing out the season in Boston.  The AL West will be decided in that Astros/Rangers series.

3. Seattle Mariners. This team is starting to feel a little like the Houston Texans in football.  Each year people really want to pick them as the surprise team, and they just can’t quite get there.  You can never count out a team with King Felix and Robinson Cano, but the M’s just don’t have the depth that the Rangers have, nor the overall starting talent that the Astros have.

4. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  As usual, it’s Mike Trout and…that’s about it.  Is anyone outside of Anaheim excited for Kole Calhoun?  Does anyone really think that Albert Pujols is as young as he says he is?  Sad to see one of the most talented players in the game being wasted on a team with no direction.  With the worst farm system in baseball, it also has no future.

5. Oakland Athletics. At some point you have to wonder if the game is starting to pass Billy Beane by.  Yes, his methods of building teams and evaluating talent changed the game forever.  But the game HAS changed and most teams are using his model and employing scores of sabermetricians.   In recent years Oakland has seemed more like a farm team for other teams than a contender.  Now that more teams are employing his model, his diamonds in the rough are getting harder and harder to come by.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

1. Washington Nationals. The hiring of Dusty Baker last year after the firing of Matt Williams was a stroke of genius.  Baker knows how to relate to his players, unlike Williams who had clearly lost control of the clubhouse.  Trea Turner is a superstar in the making and the Nats continue to have enough depth that they can still win over 90 games even with a slumping Bryce Harper.  Will Harper’s 2016 woes carry into 2017?  Or will he regain the form he had in 2015?  The Nats are one of the favorites to get to the World Series, but you have to think that their window of opportunity is starting to inch down just a bit.

2. New York Mets. Had Cespedes gone elsewhere, I would have put the Mets lower on this list.  His return adds to a strong outfield that knows how to hit the long ball.  Jose Reyes makes his return to the Big Apple, but he’s barely a shell of his former self.  Matt Harvey is back in the rotation after devastating injuries curtailed some of his prime years, but even if he were to go down again, the Mets’ rotation is one of the best in all of baseball, and one of the deepest.  Led by the God of Thunder himself, expect Mets pitching to get the them into the postseason once again.

3. Miami Marlins. When Mattingly was managing the Dodgers, he looked like a guy who tried to be everyone’s friend and couldn’t seem to distance himself from Mattingly the player, even down to his need to piss on pitchers (especially his own).  When he came to Miami, Mattingly the manager usurped Mattingly the player as he took over a young team with few stars and a fan base that’s almost non-existent (though, one could say the Marlins guy that sits behind home plate at most MLB games during the season is one of the most recognized fans in all of baseball).  The loss of Fernandez was devastating, but Mattingly seems to have a good recipe for getting this young team on track.  If the Marlins start building up their farm system, don’t be surprised if they ascend the standings in a few years as the Nats descend.  Still at least a couple of years away from the playoffs for this team.

4. Philadelphia Phillies.  Phillies fans have to be thinking “what if?”  What if Reuben Amaro had traded the likes of Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley when they had the chance to bring in a trove of prospects.  Had he done so sooner, those prospects would most likely be setting the team up for a pennant run this year.  That only happened in fantasy land.  There is some exciting talent on this team, including Velasquez and Nola on the back end of the rotation.  The addition of Howie Kendrick brings some veteran leadership and a solid bat.  Don’t be surprised if the Phillies hang around for a while longer than they did last year.  They still have a ways to go, but they are trending upward finally.

5. Atlanta Braves. A lineup that includes Matt Kemp, Freddie Freeman, Brandon Phillips, Nick Markakis, and Dansby Swanson doesn’t sound too bad.  Granted, if at least three of the first four play like they did in their prime and avoid injuries.  Swanson is an early favorite for Rookie of the Year.  Braves had the opportunity to part with Teheran, but were never wowed by any offers.  That’s probably a good thing, because outside of Teheran, the pitching is downright abysmal.  When two of your five starting pitchers are over the age of 40, that’s never a good sign.

NL CENTRAL

1. Chicago Cubs. Is there any doubt about this one?  Cubs return their World Series team of 2016 largely intact.  Kris Bryant is going to be a perennial All-Star, and top to bottom that lineup is the strongest in the league.  The loss of Ross and Chapman won’t hurt them as much as people think.

2. St. Louis Cardinals. How this team competes year after year continues to blow my mind.  It’s hard to imagine the Cardinals as a team that flies under the radar, but this team will definitely do that in 2017 with all eyes on the Cubs.  Outside of Yadier Molina, many people outside the state of Missouri wouldn’t be able to pick any of the rest of this team out of a police lineup.  But each player has a role and you can never tell who will be the star on any given night.  Once Alex Reyes is ready, this team will challenge the Cubs for the top spot in the Central all the way through the end of September.

3. Pittsburgh Pirates. Not a lot to get excited about here.  The bullpen is pretty solid, and Gerrit Cole should deliver in 2017, but outside of McCutcheon this team has too many questions marks.  Not to mention the fact that the Cubs and Cardinals have far better talent and much better depth.  Even though the Bucs were in the hunt until September last year, I see them taking a step backwards and finishing closer to the Brewers and Reds than the Cubs and Cardinals.

4. Milwaukee Brewers. It seemed to me the Brewers had high hopes that someone would take Ryan Braun off their hands so they could officially start the rebuilding process.  That hasn’t happened yet, but don’t be surprised if he is dealt by the trade deadline.  Brewers farm system is pretty solid and the team already features one of the youngest lineups in the league.  For this season, there are just too many journeymen and too much inexperience to make any noise.

5. Cincinnati Reds. The Joey Votto contract continues to be an albatross around the neck of this small-market franchise.  If healthy, Votto could put up some big numbers this year. However, gone are Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips, part of a nucleus that formed the playoff-bound teams of the early 2010s.  This will be a fast team, that’s for sure, with Billy Hamilton and Jose Peraza torching the base paths.  Duvall will showcase his talent for hitting long bombs in hitter-friendly Great America.  The pitching, however, is dreadful.  Really, really dreadful.

NL WEST

1. Los Angeles Dodgers. Interesting fact:  Dodgers were able to win the NL West and push the Cubs in the NLCS despite having a record 28 players on the DL during the season.  Think about it, that’s a team’s entire starting lineup sitting in the med room three times over.  Roberts no doubt deserved the Manager of the Year.  If the health and conditioning coaches have figured out how to keep the entire team off the DL, this team could easily take the NL pennant.  Look for Seager to have a big year, the bullpen to stay strong (except for Chris Hatcher who must be blackmailing someone to keep him employed), and for wunderkind Urias to get everyone talking about his 2018 Cy Young possibilities.

2. San Francisco Giants.  The Giants always play the Dodgers well and as long as Bumgarner is on the hill (and behind the plate), the Giants are always a force to reckon with.  The lineup will feature a group that knows how to get on base.  The key to whether the Giants compete with the Dodgers for first or the Rockies for third will largely depend on the success of the back end of the rotation (will the real Jeff Samardzija please stand up?) and if Mark Melancon continues to be the shut down closer he was last year.

3. Colorado Rockies. Arenado, Car-Go, Story, Blackmon…how many home runs is this team capable of?  The bases will not be empty for very long, as this team was one of the best in baseball for OBP last year.  As always in Colorado, pitching will be a concern.  Jon Gray may be the first Rockies pitcher we’ve seen in a long time that’s actually pretty decent.  But he’s only one pitcher, which means Rockies won’t be catching up to the Dodgers any time soon.

4. Arizona Diamondbacks. Changes in the front office and at manager were made to hopefully bring a spark of success.  While Grienke’s numbers last year weren’t terrible, they were nowhere near what the D-backs thought they were getting for all the money they paid him.  Goldschmidt will once again make the case for MVP and could possibly be a 30-30 guy.  The team will get hits, and the addition of Taijuan Walker will bolster the rotation, but the bullpen is the Achilles heel of this team.  The D-backs still have plenty of rebuilding to do out in the desert.

5. San Diego Padres.  The “win now” approach from a few years ago was an utter disaster, and the team has paid the price.  They can’t hit, they can’t pitch, and help from the farm system is still a few years away.  At least they’re playing in beautiful San Diego, so it’s not a total loss if they finish with the worst record in baseball, right?

PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS

Wild cards: Rangers over Orioles, Mets over Cardinals

ALDS: Red Sox over Astros, Indians over Rangers

NLDS: Dodgers over Nationals, Cubs over Mets

ALCS: Indians over Red Sox

NLCS: Dodgers over Cubs

WORLD SERIES:  Dodgers over Indians

4813_los_angeles_dodgers-primary-1972

The Mess in Washington: Offseason Chaos and the Evil that is Dan Snyder

capitals-fire68

Lordship, money, alcohol, backstabbing…Washington has it all.

No, I’m not talking about the President of the United States.

No, I’m not talking about Congress’s approval rating going up to a more “respectable” 28%.

And no, I’m not even talking about the dumpster fire that is Washington Metro.

Instead, I’m talking about a different kind of Washington dumpster fire, one that is centered around 21300 Redskin Park Drive in Ashburn, VA.  One that has been centered there for quite some time.  Little did Redskins fans know back in 2002 that, when team owner Dan Snyder fired head coach Marty Schottenheimer after just one season at the helm to bring in Steve Spurrier, it was the beginning of years of futility; the beginning of a rain of fire and brimstone upon the team and its die-hard fans that has lasted for 16 years.  A storm that emanated from Snyder himself.

Snyder-run teams have often been abysmal.  If you ask Redskins teams how they think their teams have looked on the field over the past 16 years, this might be your #1 answer:

The latest drama surrounding fan-favorite and franchise record-setting QB Kirk Cousins, Scott Mcloughlan and his alcoholism(?), Bruce Allen and Dan Snyder shouldn’t be seen as something unexpected by those who have bled maroon and gold for generations.  However, it is a level of dysfunction that is causing some Skins fans to begin questioning their loyalty to this once proud franchise.  For years, NFL fans have come to recognize Redskins fans as some of the most loyal, dedicated sports fans in the country.  You couldn’t imagine a Redskins fan giving up on their team any more than you could a Cowboys fan (though Jerry Jones at times in his ownership certainly tested their loyalty).  However, this offseason Snyder has pissed Skins fans off in ways that Jones never could with Cowboys fans.

To recap the Redskins’ 2017 offseason: McLoughlan was fired for unspecified reasons, with a leak coming out hinting that he was dealing with alcoholism issues again (a rumor that some say may not be true and is instead an underhanded ploy used by Snyder and his lapdog Allen to make him look bad.  Maybe the sales at the Whole Foods in Ashburn were just too good to pass up?).  His removal was done during the most important part of the offseason: the combine and beginning of free agency.  BOTH Garcon and Jackson leave (the first time in NFL history that two 1,000 yard receivers left the same team in the same offseason). Cousins demands a trade after being told he was going to be put on the franchise tag yet again.  The defensive coordinator was fired, and the offensive coordinator bolted to become head coach in Los Angeles.  Oh, and the former offensive coordinator who drafted Cousins and was fired by Snyder years before?  Sitting in San Francisco as the new head coach and publicly drooling over how much he wants to bring Cousins to his QB-strapped team out on the left coast.

You Like That?  Breaking Down the Cousins Fiasco.

I can’t even begin to describe the clusterfuck that this organization is right now.  And it all starts at the top with Dan Snyder.  First, let’s start with Kirk Cousins.  Trivia question:  What do Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Russel Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers have in common?  They are all pro-bowl, Super Bowl winning quarterbacks.  In the NFL, unless you have a record-setting defense, the odds of your team winning the big game without a star quarterback is infinitesimal.  Pro-bowl caliber QBs are few and far between, so when you have one it MIGHT actually be a good idea to hold onto him.  That seems to be the opposite thinking of what’s going on in Washington.  Instead of locking down their star QB, they put another franchise tag on him.  By doing that, it leaves them with only three options:

Option 1:  Use the extra time to negotiate a long-term deal.  That seems unlikely, considering that Cousins has already demanded a trade and has stated that he will not sign any long-term deal unless Bruce Allen is fired.  Given that no one tells Snyder what to do, it is highly improbable that he will give in to Cousins’ demands.  Snyder has long shown the propensity to not give two shits when people try to tell him what to do.  He sees himself as the absolute Lord of his franchise and not even God himself could come down and tell him to do something differently.

Option 2: Trade Kirk Cousins.  Under the franchise tag, a trade can result in receiving two first round picks.  Kyle Shanahan is already foaming at the mouth to get Cousins in San Francisco, and they hold the #2 overall pick this year. (Don’t even try to buy into Shanahan’s “we’re building around Brian Hoyer” nonsense.)  Chances are, even if they land Cousins they won’t be that great next year with all the holes they have to fill, so San Fran’s  first round pick in 2018 will probably be fairly high as well.  If this option came to pass, the Skins would essentially be trading a pro-bowl QB for an unproven commodity.  Also, this year’s QB draft class is rather weak with no sure-fire #1 overall pick at the position. This option is also unlikely.  First, Snyder would never in a million years send his star QB to be coached by any of the Shanahans.  Second, from San Fran’s perspective, why give up a couple of first rounders when the next option seems most likely…

Option 3:  The Redskins slap the Transition Tag on Cousins for 2018.  This would be the dumbest option for the Skins, and sadly the most likely.  The Transition Tag would increase Cousins’ salary from $23.94 million this year to $28.78 million next year.  Teams can still make offer sheets to Cousins, but Washington would have the right to match any offer.  When teams make offers, it will be significantly higher than what Cousins is getting will be paid under the transition tag.  If Washington wants to keep Cousins, they would have to sign him to a long-term deal at a price higher than they were willing to pay before.  If they decide not to match an offer sheet, they lose him with no compensation.  A win-win scenario for Cousins and a lose-lose for the Skins.  And all Shanahan has to do is wait for 2018.

Dan Snyder: Greedy, Whiny, Uncaring

iEoKQjNB
From the cover of the Washington City Paper in 2010.  Snyder sued the paper, citing the cover as “anti-semitic.”  He eventually dropped his lawsuit after he realized judges weren’t going to side with him.

Dan Snyder is the worst owner in sports.  No, really, he is.  He tops the poll in this Rolling Stone Magazine ranking of the worst owners in all of sports.  That’s pretty bad when you’re considered a worse owner than James Dolan, The Devos Family and Jimmy Haslam.  It’s not easy to be the worst of the worst.  It takes a lot of effort.  One offseason like this one will not put you there overnight, but it can solidify the place you already own at the top of the trash heap.  It takes years of evil to be able to piss fans off so much that they are considering dumping their beloved team. Not counting this offseason, let’s take a look at some of the ways Snyder has made such a name for himself:

Vinny Cerrato.  A name cursed among the Redskins faithful.  Longtime General Manager Charley Casserly (who built the Super Bowl team in 1991) was let go in favor of Snyder’s racquetball buddy, Cerrato.  What followed were years of overspending on washed out players, and poor drafting.  Cerrato briefly hosted a Monday morning talk radio show until he couldn’t handle all the anger from Redskins fans who called in.  Eventually he stopped coming to the show after Redskins losses before quitting the show altogether.

Steve Spurrier.  Perhaps jealous of the “Greatest Show on Turf” happening with the Rams, Snyder fired Marty Schottenheimer after one season to bring in Steve Spurrier and his “Fun N Gun” offense.  NFL defenses quickly figured out how to stop a college-level offense and Spurrier’s offense stumbled.  After a 7-9 record in his first season, Spurrier went 5-11 the next.  He resigned at the end of that season and returned to coaching college ball.

snydercoachchange5

The Entertainment Tax.  Prince George’s County collects a 10% entertainment tax from each ticket sale as part of the deal for putting the football stadium there.  These charges are added once you purchase the ticket.  Snyder removed them from them being included in the ticket price and hiked the price of tickets up to astronomical levels.

$10.  Amount Snyder began charging fans to watch football practice, becoming the first team to do so (all other NFL teams allowed fans to attend for free).  He also charged an additional $10 for parking at football practice.

2006 fan “appreciation” day.  Five hour day with only two hours of scrimmage. Fans addressed by a bunch of nobodies in the front office.  Fans could not get autographs or photographs with any of the players or coaches.  Oh, and though they didn’t mention it in any of their advertisements, fans had to pay $25 to park on their “appreciation” day.

Jim Zorn.  Seen by many as perhaps the worst NFL head coach hire in the history of the league.  Zorn had previously been nothing more than a QB coach when he was tabbed to be the HC of the Skins.  He was so inept, that eventually his play-calling duties were turned over to a guy who was calling bingo at a retirement home before Snyder hired him.  The term “Zorned” can now be heard in the DC area as a euphemism for incompetence.

zorn11
You’ve been Zorned!

Snyder will sue your grandmother.  73 year-old Pat Hill was sued by the Redskins in 2009 because she could no longer afford the rising costs of season tickets.  She had previously been a season-ticket holder for 50 years.

Bruce Smith, Deion Sanders, Albert Haynesworth, Jeff George, Donovan McNabb.  Snyder doesn’t know the difference between running a fantasy football team, and an actual football team.  Overpriced busts who contributed nothing but headaches, fan frustration and payroll nightmares.

Sign bans at the stadium.  Snyder said he had to institute this policy because of “safety” reasons.  In reality, nearly every sign was derogatory towards Snyder and Cerrato and poor little Snyder’s feelings were hurt.

2009halloween5

Dedication to RGIII.  Fans were weary at first when the Skins gave up so much to move up in the draft and take the former Heisman Trophy winner.  After the first year, it looked as if the deal was worth it with Griffin leading the team to the playoffs.  However, Shanahan’s constant use of a damaged player and Griffin’s inability to slide when he began to run led to a rash of injuries.  Clearly not the player he once was, Shanahan wanted to move on to another QB, but Snyder refused.  Eventually Griffin’s injury woes and poor play became too much even for Snyder, but not before Snyder jettisoned Shanahan and his son in favor of backing his prized draft pick.

He might pay Deion Sanders, but he ain’t gonna pay you.  A group of employees sued Snyder in 2008 when they were not paid for overtime.  Snyder tried to argue that overtime rules did not apply to them.  He lost the case.  Soon after, he made every new employee sign a waiver agreement that states they will never sue him for any reason once employed.

We’re only wired for analog.  For years, Snyder refused to upgrade the videotron at the stadium while other stadiums around the country were going to hi-def.  Video was often spotty and replays hard to see.  The excuse was that the stadium was only wired for analog.  Yet, when U2 came to perform, their high-def equipment seemed to work just fine on those same wires.  A new jumbotron was eventually installed.

Six Flags.  Snyder was so inept as a Board member for Six Flags, that he was eventually removed from the Board for “fiduciary irresponsibility.”  By the time that happened, Six Flags stock had dropped to worthless.  Bill Gates himself lost over $10 million from the price drop.

Profiting off 9/11.  By simply sewing an image of the Pentagon on the side of black Redskins caps, Snyder demanded coaches wear them and fans buy them at a price of $23.99 in 2006. (no other team was doing this at the time).  After 9/11 he added a $4 “security charge” to the cost of all tickets.

To Hell with the National Park Service, I want a river view!  Snyder defied the National Park Service and had acres of federally protected trees removed so that he could see the Potomac River from his mansion.

239237
Clearly Snyder is not a fan of the Lorax.

The Redskins Mastercard.  Snyder told fans he was ONLY going to accept credit card payments from this particular card for any 2005 season ticket purchases.  Mastercard had to step in and tell him to knock it off.

$50 to Leave a Ticket at Will Call.  Not a season-ticket holder?  That will be an additional $50 if you want to leave your ticket at Will Call for someone.

The Redskins Broadcast Network.  While the rest of humanity saw Snyder and his ownership for what it was, Snyder did everything to make his state-run broadcast network display nothing but sugarcoated goodness about the Redskins.

Where Do Things Go From Here?

That’s the $23 million dollar question, isn’t it?  Snyder’s not going anywhere, and just when you think he’s stepping aside and letting the right people call the shots, we suddenly have an offseason like this one.  What should have been an offseason where the defense was addressed and the team take another step forward, is instead one more crazy year reflective of, literally, the worst owner in sports.  If Cousins is traded, it’s unlikely that the team will turn over the reigns to a rookie QB right away.  Colt McCoy is also probably not the answer with his semi-noodle arm.  Can you imagine what would happen if the Redskins sign either Brock Osweiler, Tony Romo or, God forbid, RGIII (all of who are currently looking for work)?

I’m pretty sure the reaction from Redskins’ fans would be thus:

8d0a66fbe7bff1e31ae8bc81f0c4f262

Many thanks to the Washington City Paper for their always awesome coverage of the Redskins.

“Star Trek: Discovery” Has Its Captain

Jason_isaacs
Jason Isaacs, AKA Captain Lorca of the Starship Discovery

CBS officially announced two new characters this week for Star Trek: Discovery.  The most notable of these casting announcements is of actor Jason Isaacs as Captain Lorca.  Lorca will be sitting in the captain’s chair on the U.S.S. Discovery and will be the superior officer to show star Lt. Commander Rainsford (played by Sonequa Martin-Green).  Isaacs, who hails from Liverpool, has a long resume that includes 111 tv and movie credits (not including Discovery).

This is definitely an interesting casting choice as it really doesn’t shed a lot of light on the kind of Captain he will be.  Many people know him from his roles as Lucius Malfoy from the Harry Potter movies and Colonel William Tavington in The Patriot.  If there’s one thing Isaacs does well, is play a villain we all hate.  If you’ve seen Harry Potter or The Patriot, tell me there’s not a part of your skin that crawls when you see these two characters:

anigif_enhanced-20201-1397311126-14200

And if you’re a Star Wars: Rebels fan, you will recognize his voice as that of the Grand Inquisitor:

image_ac01eba9

Here’s a little secret, however:  He can actually play good guys!  And he does it really well!  He played Captain Steele in Blackhawk Down, D.J. in Event Horizon, Detective Jim Reed in Guardians, Charles Beck in Passionada, Chaz Watley in Sweet November…and more.  He also has a role as Georgy Zhukov in what looks like an interesting comedy about the death of Stalin coming out later this year.

What should we think?

First instinct is to think that Captain Lorca will be a real asshole, maybe burn down a church of Klingons, or talk down to his subordinates like Malfoy did to, well, everyone. But I don’t think that will be the case.  I think the casting of Isaacs will allow us to see a Captain that will be nice when he has to be, and downright cold when the situation calls for it. Isaacs has a lot of acting experience playing all kinds of characters, so honestly it’s any guess as to how Captain Lorca will be portrayed.

While the news of Discovery finally casting its Captain is great, it’s still not as big as when they announced the casting of Green.  For those who may not know, producers stated early on that for the first time in Trek history the main character would not be a Captain.  Instead, it will focus on Green’s Lt. Commander Rainsford.  Still, Discovery now having its Captain is something all Trek fans should be happy about.

Talk About a Senior Study Abroad:

MV5BMjA3NzI4OTczNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjg1MDM0ODE@._V1_UX214_CR0,0,214,317_AL_
Mary Wiseman, AKA Cadet Tilly of the Starship: Discovery

Also announced as a new cast member is actress Mary Wiseman, who will be playing Cadet Tilly, a Starfleet Cadet who is assigned to the Discovery for her final year of study.  According to IMDB, Wiseman has only six film and television credits, which include parts on TV shows such as Craft and BurnDifficult People, The Characters, Longmire, and Baskets.  She was also in a short film called Three Dates.  Not a lot to her credit so far, so Discovery could be a big break.

Down the Road

Although a date has not been set for the premiere of Discovery, there is some speculation that it could premiere late summer or early fall.  Considering that my birthday is on the last official day of summer, I sincerely hope that it premieres then.  How sweet would it be to have a Star Trek TV show premiere on your birthday!  Though, that would mean not going to Philadelphia on that day to see my Dodgers smash the Phillies.  Oh well, sacrifices!

With each new cast member announced, I grow more and more optimistic.  Given Isaacs filmography, I doubt very much he would sign on to do a show that runs the risk of being doomed from the start at this point in his career.  Hopefully we’ll get details on a plot soon.